Female Moraine Park student working on machinery

From a young age, Sara Martens found joy working with machinery. After high school, she considered the CNC/Tool and Die Technologies program at Moraine Park in West Bend to make this passion a career.

Wonderful, right? A passion. A plan. Perfect.

Well, it wasn’t quite that easy.

Stinging words

“I didn’t have much support … I received menacing comments like ‘That’s a man’s job.’ and ‘Go ahead and try since you want to so bad; you won’t like it,'” Sara said.

Due to this initial opposition, she ended up enrolling in Moraine Park’s Business Management program instead, graduating with an associate degree in 2012.

“I would always sit at the tables outside of the shop in the manufacturing department doing my homework for my associate degree. Gazing outside of the window, I would think to myself how cool all of the machinery looked and sounded, hoping that one day it would be me on the other side,” Sara said.

And those feelings lingered, even after going to earn her bachelor’s in Human Resource Management in June 2015. Sitting at desks buried in paperwork, the thoughts of working with machinery kept playing pinball in her head. But so were the discouraging comments.

“I started to hit rock bottom when a close individual told me that they didn’t see me as anything more than a gas station clerk. I remember lying in bed every night feeling like a failure,” Sara said.

“That’s when I made the executive decision to enroll into the full time CNC/Tool and Die program.”

Making a choice

The good news is, despite all her obstacles, there’s no stopping Sara! We’re thrilled and proud to say Sara went from thoughts of “failure” and second-guessing to now preparing to graduate in May 2017 – doing something she absolutely LOVES.

The world of manufacturing is a whole different language in comparison to the business world. Despite coming in green with no experience, the instructors at Moraine Park were more than willing to teach me the basics from ground up; anywhere from the proper way to handle tooling to understanding how to read precision measuring devices,” Sara said, adding “Moraine Park’s manufacturing department is comprised of individuals who are passionate about sharing their skills and knowledge with future generations, necessary to staff today’s competitive workforce.”

Sara is currently a second-year student in the CNC/Tool and Die program at Moraine Park’s West Bend campus, and has been the only female student of approximate 40 men.

That hasn’t stopped her, and Sara said it shouldn’t stop other women either.

“I would highly encourage women to pursue a career in manufacturing. Not only does the experience open up a multitude of opportunities in the workforce, but it helps develop a stronger individual both mind and body,” Sara said, adding “You are entering a field that caters to the demands automotive, aerospace, health, appliance and countless products that affect our lives daily. The possibilities are endless.”

And no matter where your passion lies, Sara has some advice to share – far better than she received along her journey:

“Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t or that you’re too weak to do accomplish your goals.”

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We’re super proud of Sara, and if you want to pursue your own passion and make it a career, we can help you like we helped her! Visit morainepark.edu/programs for all the details!

Andrew Pantzlaff
Written by Andrew Pantzlaff

Public Relations Specialist.
Lover of pizza.